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Season 3, Episode 1
Angel 3x01.png
Air date September 24, 2001
Written by David Greenwalt
Directed by David Greenwalt
Episode Guide
"There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb"
"That Vision-Thing"
David Boreanaz Angel
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Alexis Denisof Wesley
J. August Richards Gunn
Amy Acker Fred
Special Guest Starring
Julie Benz Darla
Guest Starring
Andy Hallett Lorne
Ron Melendez James
Kate Norby Elisabeth
Keith Szarabajka Holtz
Co Starring
Matthew James Merl
Koji Kataoka Pilgrim
Sam Littlefield Young Man Hostage
Dalila Brown-Geiger Sandy
Christian Hastings Vamp #1
Bob Fimiani Codger Demon
Robert Madrid Rough Man
Bob Morrisey Dr. Gregson

"Heartthrob" is the season premiere of the third season of Angel and the forty-fifth episode overall. Written and directed by David Greenwalt, it was originally broadcast on The WB television on September 24, 2001, two weeks later than intended due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In this episode, Angel's former vampiric traveling companion James seeks revenge against Angel for staking his lover.


Wesley, Cordelia and Gunn return from defeating a group of demon worshipers, and discuss their full and unusual lives and why people would be obsessed with demons enough to worship them in the first place. The conversation eventually turns to the recent addition at the Hyperion Hotel, Winifred "Fred" Burkle, who has spent the last three months in her room (except when she enters the lobby for a few seconds before scurrying back) since returning from Pylea. Cordy notes how much she misses Pylea, and Wesley points out she was there for a week and became a queen, while Fred spent five years there either as a slave whose head nearly got cut off, or a fugitive hiding in a cave all alone. Also cause for concern is Angel, who has spent the summer at a monastery in Sri Lanka in order to help him cope with Buffy's death. Gunn points out that he suggested Angel got drunk and went to Vegas to get over Buffy, but Wesley responds that all Angel needs is peace and quiet.

Angel's mourning, however, is anything but peaceful as the monks turn out to be Shur-hod Demons and Angel must kill them all. He leaves the scene of battle, telling the confused men outside that he should have gone to Vegas.

Angel returns to Los Angeles and is eagerly greeted by his friends. He gives Cordelia a necklace, Wesley a 16th century dagger and Gunn a shrunken head (all three gifts are greatly appreciated). Angel asks after Fred, and despite Cordelia's attempt to cover, Angel guesses she hasn't left her room. He decides to go and talk to her; upon hearing a knock at the door, Fred tries to get rid of whoever is on the other side until she hears it's Angel, then she rushes joyfully to the door to see him. Invited into Fred's room, Angel finds the walls covered in writing, similar to Fred's cave in Pylea. She has both arcane mathematical formulas and different phrases. Upon seeing a section with the words "LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN," Angel asks what she's listening for, and Fred responds, "The click in my head when everything makes sense." Angel invites her downstairs, but a scream from Cordelia shatters her sense of security. Cordelia's visions (which have grown increasingly painful over the last few months) send the guys to intercept a party crashed by vampires. They find the vampires with two kidnapped humans in a car, and Angel stakes the female vampire. As she is dying, the vampire says "Angelus?" and then turns to dust. Angel stares at the locket in his hand that he had ripped off her neck, and recognizes her as Elisabeth. Meanwhile, Cordelia recovers from her vision with the help of her ghost, Dennis, a relaxing bath, and some powerful painkillers.

A flashback to Marseille, France, in 1767 reveals that Darla and Angelus once spent time with Elisabeth and James. Angelus is annoyed with the cutesy, loving relationship between the other couple. James steals a locket from a store window for Elisabeth—the same locket she was wearing at her staking. Angelus is also concerned with escaping the vampire hunter, Daniel Holtz, who has been tracking him since Angelus killed the man's entire family.

In the present, James learns about Elisabeth's death, and that Angel was responsible. He charges into the office of a special demon doctor, demanding a special treatment of some kind. The demon, a skin-molting creature named Dr. Gregson, questions James's ability to accept the price, but agrees. James says he has already paid the price. At Caritas, Lorne sings, while Wesley and Gunn grill Merl for information. Merl reveals James visited Dr. Gregson earlier.

At the Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia tries to get Angel to talk about losing Buffy. She tells him it wasn't his fault, but he misunderstands and thinks she is telling him that it wasn't his fault that he killed Elisabeth. Angel doesn't want to talk about Buffy. Then, James emerges from the basement and attacks Angel, demanding to know why he took Elisabeth from him. Fred chooses that moment to emerge, and Angel yells at her to stay in her room, causing the girl to lose what little confidence she had gained. The two continue to fight, and Cordelia manages to hit James hard with a fire extinguisher, then tosses Angel a stake. Angel manages to stake James, but to no effect. Then Angel throws James outside into the sun, but he is similarly unharmed. Angel and Cordelia run for the sewers, and Angel throws James off temporarily with the scent of his blood, but James eventually finds them in a subway train. A call from Wesley reveals that James has been made invincible by Dr. Gregson by having his heart removed, but it's not permanent and he will die when it wears off, though that part of the phone call is unclear as reception is poor in the sewers. As they fight inside the subway train, James questions Angel's knowledge of true love. Angel tells him that he had one true love, but recently lost her. He assures James he understands what it is like to lose someone he loves. James disputes that this was true love, as he thinks that if Angel loved and lost, then he, too, would not want to go on anymore. Soon, the effects of the cure wear off, and James crumbles into dust. Angel allows James' comments about not being able to exist after losing the person he loved to upset him, but Cordelia convinces him that he honors Buffy by going on, as that is what she would want.

At a cantina in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, a man presents contact information for a shaman to Darla, who quickly turns to sink her teeth into him. As he falls to the floor, Darla turns to leave the bar, revealing that she is in a very advanced state of pregnancy.


  • This episode contains a subtle metaphorical allusion to Buffy the Vampire Slayer leaving for UPN, while Angel the series was remaining on The WB. Angel states how Buffy leaving did not kill him, and that he would continue to survive in order to honor her. Similarly, the show Angel would remain independent from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the two shows were now on competing networks. A similar allusion was used in Sanctuary, in which Angel tells Buffy she is no longer part of his life, meaning the show Angel is strong on its own without Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • This episode marks the first onscreen appearance of Holtz in Angel.
  • This is the first season premiere not to feature Lindsey McDonald.
  • Fred writes the word LISTEN on a wall, similarly to Marcie Ross in the Buffy episode Out of Mind, Out of Sight, who herself was experiencing mental issues.
  • Angel's lack of grief for Buffy's death may be foreshadowing the fact that Willow, Tara, Xander, and Anya bring her back to life in the first episode of season 6 of Buffy.
  • Cordelia refers to the Gem of Amara, that makes a vampire invincible. It was first seen in "The Harsh Light of Day" and destroyed in "In the Dark".

Body Count[]

  • Shur-hod demons, killed by Angel
  • Party guys, killed by Elisabeth and her minions
  • one vampire, dusted by Gunn
  • one vampire, dusted by Wesley
  • Elisabeth, dusted by Angel
  • a vampire, pushed by James and burned by the sun
  • James, heartthrob operation, dusted six hours after
  • a Nicaragua man, drained by Darla



  • Los Angeles, CA
  • A monastery in Sri Lanka
  • Marseille, France (1767, in flashbacks)
  • Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua

Behind the Scenes[]

  • The lead guest characters were named Elisabeth and James after co-creator David Greenwalt's assistant Elisabeth James.


  • Amy Acker joins the regular cast and opening credits as of this episode.
  • Returning actress Julie Benz is now billed as a Special Guest Star.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors[]

  • Darla's location is identified by a subtitle as "Puerto Cabazas, Nicaragua". There is no actual Nicaraguan city by that name, but there is one named Puerto Cabezas.
  • Despite being a vampire, James's reflection can be seen on the subway windows as it passes him by. While inside the subway, Angel's reflection can be seen on the windows as well.
  • In the scene where Wesley, Gunn and Angel are attacking the vamps near the entrance to the parking garage, Wesley and Gunn seemingly stake their vamps but if you look closely behind Angel in the scene were he stakes the blonde, you can see their bodies clearly undusted while Wes and Gunn stake their vamps again.
  • Despite being at a monastery in Sri Lanka, none of the monks appear to be South Asian, nor is the language that Angel speaks to the people waiting outside local to Sri Lanka, implied to be some form of Tibetan.
  • When Angel is confronted by James at the hotel, James is wearing a leather coat. When Angel is thrown to the right, James' coat disappears. When James starts walking to Angel again, his coat is back.
  • When Darla stands up from the bar at the end of the episode, you can clearly see the edges of the fake stomach prosthetic she is wearing through her shirt.

International titles[]

  • German: Herzflattern (Heartthrob)
  • French: A coeur perdu (Unfeeling, literally: with a lost heart)



  • The word "Yeah" is written in red runic letters on the wall to the right of the door inside Fred's hotel room.